March Eastern Fat Tire Newsletter: Is Mountain Biking good for your Bone Density?
By Mary Longhofer
HHello cycling enthusiasts!! It is almost time for the first race of the season! It is hard to believe that the dawn of spring is 3 days away as I sit here looking out my window at all the snow on the ground from Friday and Saturdayís storm. Soon it will be melted away and mud season will be upon us and then shortly after that the beauty of dry, single-track heaven!
2007 has presented itself with a personally difficult and interesting start for me (more to follow on that). As a result, my personal time line for racing is up in the air but I am excited about the race season none-the-less. We have some great race events ahead of us along with new challenges and new memories to create. Itís always fun to return to the 'cycling summer family' that Iíve grown so fond of seeing every race season. I donít know if you all feel the same way, but it feels much like returning home for me to see the same people every summer (and hopefully some new ones too!) and see kids grow up in this sport and families grow and evolve.
Anyway, due to my most recent injury that I mentioned above, I will take a brief moment to get on a new recent topic of interest of mine, that which is bone density. In part due to my deteriorating bone density, I developed with a stress fracture in my hip from running and was diagnosed at the beginning of January. I gimped around on it for over one month thinking I had a groin pull from running. I remember the specific day I thought I injured it. Anyway, I finally had this checked out and diagnosed and ended up on crutches for a month, and subsequent surgery as it didnít heal with conservative treatment. Now Iím the proud (??) owner of a big stainless steel plate and 3 screws (one being a whopping 4 inches long) on my femur and in my hip. Ouch. Anyway, the reason I bring this up is that I donít want anyone else to experience such a thing if they can avoid it.
Bone density is something I have taken for granted thus far in my life, but not anymore. I had a bone density test last fall and my bone density was found to be borderline (known in medical terms as Osteopenia). I still didnít think I really had to worry about it for a while, but man was I wrong. So, I have since done more reading on it and have learned how not uncommon stress fractures are of the tibia, femur, and femoral neck (where mine was) in women. And most of you might already know that cycling is a lousy sport to enhance bone density. If you didnít know this fact, it actually can contribute to bone loss which is why it is ultra important as cyclists to supplement training with weight bearing activity. Weight bearing activities are key - such as walking, weight lifting (preferred), and vertical jumping. Anything that loads the joints with minimal stress are preferred and help enhance bone density. Due to my recent years of cycling, I wanted to keep up running a couple of times a week for cross training purposes and for (what I thought) would benefit my bone density, but running was the culprit of my injury. So, running turns out not to be the best way to get the weight bearing benefits for oneís bones, at least not in my case. So along with looking at how I need to do things physically different in my future, Iím also committed to much-improved Calcium and Vitamin D intake through diet and supplements, which up until recently I was very lax about.
I hope to bring more awareness to others, especially women, of something so vital to our well being. Since cyclists can particularly be at risk, this is a pretty good audience. My suggestions to women out there would be: 1.
Be diligent about Calcium and Vitamin D intake especially starting early (by your 20s when bone density is still being built) but it is never too late. Iím in my early 40s, which is often the time when bone density problems can start to happen. I have been told by my doctor that appropriate Calcium and Vitamin D intake is still crucial for me. 2.
I am also now a big advocate for getting bone density testing done. At least get a baseline if you can in your 40s so you know where you are starting out and from there you can learn if your bone density is staying the same, getting worse, or hopefully improving. Insurance may or may not cover it in your 40s. Mine did because Iíve broken so many ribs from mt. biking that my doctor could slide it in under that reason for getting it covered. 3.
Add weight lifting into your training regiment year round. Iíve made the mistake of primarily doing it in the winter (off season) but due to my injury realize I need to continue this year round now for the positive effects on my bone density. 4.
Read up on this very important topic. A really good book that was recommended to me is Strong Women, Strong Bones by Miriam Nelson, PhD. This is a great book that covers all the basics from diet to exercise to medical management of Osteoperosis. I also found many web sites helpful and primarily went to ones I thought to be reputable such as the National Osteoperosis Foundation (www.nof.org) and National Institutes for Health (www.nih.gov).
So, with all that said, ride on, ride strong, and ride safe! We here in Maine hope to see many new faces at our events this year. Our courses are a blast, the people are friendly and fun and also competitive. And Maine is a beautiful destination for a race event for only a very short amount of windshield time required to get here. The Maine Mountain Bike Race Series has had one change to the 2007 schedule - the Rotary Park Short Track event has been canceled. All seven of our remaining races are on and prove to be great events. So, I hope to see you at the races!
President, Maine Mountain Bike Association
FMI - go www.mainemountainbike.com or www.efta.com
2007 MMBA Race Series schedule:
May 20 - Maine Mayhem - Camden, Maine
June 24 - Clifford Park Assault - Biddeford, Maine
July 15 - Maine Sport Run Off - Camden, Maine
July 29 - Bradbury Mountain Enduro - Pownall, Maine
August 19 - Carrabassett XC Challenge - Sugarloaf, Maine
September 2 - Rangeley Lakes Saddleback Challenge - Rangeley, Maine
September 16 - GrillZ Memorial - Georgetown, Maine
Email nick [at] noumbrella [dot] com with your questions, comments and concerns.
Design and Content © 2002 to 2006 No Umbrella